Retirement is your reward after a long career of achievement and hard work. But even if retirement seems like a dream, the reality of bill-paying sticks around. The key to enjoying your retirement is having a plan to fund it.

Saving While Working

If you have a 401(k) (or better yet, a pension) through your company, take advantage of it! This is especially true if your company matches your contribution. If they match up to 5% and you’re not contributing, you’re missing out on a great tax-free investment vehicle for retirement!

If you have a 401(k) (or better yet, a pension) through your company, take advantage of it!

If you didn’t invest in your 401(k) early in your career and you’re 50 years of older, you can exceed the maximum contribution limit ($18,000 in 2017). You can read more about “catch-up” contributions here.

Sitting down with a financial advisor or planner can go a long way toward achieving your goals. You can often connect with these experts at your bank or credit union. Though you’ll usually have to pay for these services, a financial expert can give you personalized guidance.

Controlling and Cutting Your Costs

This may seem like an obvious step, but one that’s often overlooked. Once you retire, you can easily cut costs by asking yourself, “Do I still need this?” For example, you may be able to get rid of a second car if you and your partner find you only need one. Downsizing to a smaller home can also potentially both make money on the sale and save you money in upkeep costs. Making these cost-cutting adjustments to your life is an important step in affording your retirement.

Controlling your spending is the next phase of curtailing retirement costs.

Controlling your spending is the next phase of curtailing retirement costs. You can do this a few different ways. Instead of eating out as often, learn to cook new meals for yourself. If you find yourself watching less TV, consider cutting cable and finding a cheaper streaming service that fits your needs. If you want more solutions, check out AARP’s 99 Great Ways to Save.

Speaking of AARP, joining a senior organization can help you save money through discounts and member benefits. AARP isn’t the only senior organization if you’re looking for alternatives. And you don’t need to join a group to enjoy senior discounts. Many companies and restaurants offer markdowns for their older clientele. You just need to know where to look!

Know When to Begin Pulling Social Security

Once you’re retired, Social Security can become your most reliable source of income. Not only is it consistent, you’ll receive an annual cost of living increase. For this reason, many retirees will begin receiving Social Security checks as soon as they’re able.

For some, this may not be the best idea. There are several factors that experts agree affect when you should begin pulling from Social Security. The three major factors are:

  • Will you keeping working before your full retirement age?
  • What is your marital status?
  • What is your life expectancy?
  • What is your desire to protect purchasing power?

To learn more about why you might delay receiving Social Security, and how to find the right age to start, check out “When To Take Social Security” in Further Reading.

Get a Part-Time Job

Once they’re retired, many seniors don’t know what to do with all their new free time. One way you can fill that time while making a little extra money is to get a part-time job. In years past, that meant working at a fast food restaurant or as a Walmart greeter. While there’s no shame in either of these, seniors these days have many more options.

One way clever seniors are working part time is by returning to their old jobs, but working less.

One way clever seniors are working part time is by returning to their old jobs, but working less. Even if it’s not at the same company, there are many workplaces that will utilize your experience. If you’re tired of working for someone else, you can join the growing tide of seniors who are becoming entrepreneurs.

When looking at your part-time options, remember that you’re retired. Pick an option that appeals to you since you’ve already worked because of necessity. Now’s the time to work because you want to!

Try an Annuity

If you have a healthy savings built up, one way to gain consistent income is by purchasing an annuity. If you’re already retired, the annuity you’ll want to zero in on is an immediate annuity. As the name implies, an immediate annuity begins paying out as soon as you buy it.

Another benefit of immediate annuities is that you can choose to have the annuity pay out for the rest of your life. You can even set them to last for the rest of your partner’s life. Finding the right immediate annuity for your needs can be a safe way to protect and bolster your finances for life.

There are several other kinds of annuities that you can use for retirement income. Unfortunately, annuities can also seem complex if you haven’t worked with them before. As with many financial decisions, it pays to sit down with an expert before pulling the trigger and purchasing.

Other Strategies

For a more involved way to build your retirement income, look to build a portfolio of investments. This is not an undertaking for the inexperienced, unless you have expert help. It does, however, offer the highest potential return. One place you can look to get started is Investor.gov, which gives you a crash course in investing. While there are many investment strategies, one option, in particular, is suggested for retirees – bond laddering.

Bond laddering aims to lower investment risk and maintain a steady income flow.

Through purchasing several bonds with different maturity dates, bond laddering aims to lower investment risk and maintain a steady income flow. While this strategy has less potential for growth, it’s a safer method that keys in on providing a reliable income.

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Remember, there are a lot of different options for you to choose when it comes to funding your retirement. Explore as many of them as you can to see which ones fit your needs and wants. If you need help, sitting down with a financial expert is an excellent place to start planning for financial stability.

Whether you’re saving for retirement or already living the dream, having a financial plan can mean the difference between enjoying your retirement or simply surviving it.

Further Reading

AARP — 4 Retirement Traps to Avoid
the balance — When to Take Social Security
the balance — 7 Ways to Get Guaranteed Retirement Income